When you are injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence or recklessness, you probably know that you are likely entitled to seek compensation from that at-fault driver. However, anyone who has dealt with an insurance company knows that insurers don’t make the process simple.
At Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers, we have in-depth knowledge of all the factors that go into determining the value of your car accident claim. We also understand the steps that are necessary for maximizing the compensation you can receive.
If you have questions about your car accident case, contact Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-LAW-GUYS to set up a free case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable Boston car accident attorneys.
Factors That Affect Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Factors that affect or increase settlement amounts include:
- The severity of your injuries and other damages: In a car accident claim, you should demand compensation for the full amount of damages you have suffered. The more severe your injuries are, the more medical bills you will likely have. You may also need to take more time off work, or you may not be able to return to work at all. Severe injuries such as permanent and/or serious disfigurement, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, loss of use of body parts or bodily functions, or substantial loss of hearing or sight will likely require ongoing, expensive treatment. All of this, along with your pain and suffering, should be taken into account when determining what compensation is fair in your case.
- Fault for the accident: Massachusetts applies the “modified comparative fault” rule, which means that your compensation for your damages may be reduced to account for any share of fault you bear for the accident. (If you are more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover any compensation.) Insurance companies will try to use this rule to their advantage and push the blame on you in an effort to reduce your compensation or deny your claim altogether.
- The amount of insurance coverage available: Most drivers don’t have sufficient personal financial assets to compensate someone for severe injuries suffered in a car accident. Instead, they rely on their insurance coverage to provide compensation to an accident victim. Thus, the amount of compensation you receive in a settlement with an at-fault driver may end up being limited by the policy limits on the person’s insurance coverage. Of course, if you still have uncompensated damages after settling for the full extent of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, you may still be entitled to make a claim under your own policy’s underinsured motorist coverage.
Do’s and Don’ts to Increase Car Accident Case Value
In the hours, days, and weeks after your car accident, there are steps you should (and shouldn’t) take to maximize the value of your car accident claim. These include:
- DO contact 911 or the police. Immediately after the accident, you should call 911 or law enforcement. An officer will come to the scene to prepare an accident report. In many cases, the police accident report can serve as critical evidence in a later car accident claim, as the report may set forth the investigating officer’s opinion as to who was at fault for the accident.
- DO get the contact information for the at-fault driver. Be sure to get the person’s name, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. Also get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the crash.
- DO take photos of the accident scene and visible injuries. Photos and videos can serve as definitive evidence in your car accident claim. Try to record the positions of vehicles after the accident, any damage to the vehicles, any skid marks on the road, the road signs and traffic lights and controls at the scene, and the lighting, road, weather, and traffic conditions at the time of the accident. You should also document any visible injuries you suffered.
- DO seek medical attention and follow up on treatment recommendations. Even if you declined medical attention at the accident scene, you should still follow up with your primary care physician or another medical provider as soon as possible. Pain or other symptoms of injury may take days or even weeks to manifest, whereas a doctor may be able to identify your injuries through a physical examination and begin treatment immediately. Promptly documenting your injuries will allow you to avoid the other side’s argument that you were not seriously injured in the accident and will allow you to better calculate your damages.
- DON’T say you are sorry. Although your instinct after an accident might be to offer apologies, you should avoid doing so, or making other statements that could be construed as admitting fault. Those seemingly innocent statements may later be used against you in your claim for compensation.
- DON’T give a statement to the insurance company or accept a settlement offer without first speaking with a car accident attorney. You should decline to give an insurance adjuster a statement regarding the accident without first speaking with an attorney. The adjuster will be looking to use your statement to deny your claim or offer you less than the full value of your claim. If you get a settlement offer from the insurance company, you should review the offer with an attorney to help decide whether it represents fair compensation for your claim.
- DON’T talk about your accident on social media or post photos or videos of yourself after your accident. If you make statements about your accident on social media that conflict with statements you’ve given to the insurance company or made in a legal proceeding, the other side may use your social media posts to attack your credibility. If you post photos or videos of yourself on social media, especially photos or videos of yourself traveling or being active, the insurance company may cite those photos as evidence that you are not as seriously injured as you claim.
What’s the Average Boston Car Accident Settlement?
Every case is unique. The size or amount of your Boston car accident settlement will depend on the amount of damages you’ve sustained as a result of the accident. A fair car accident settlement will provide compensation for damages such as:
- Past and future medical expenses (including co-pays and deductibles) for hospital says, doctor’s office visits, surgeries, rehab and therapy, prescription medication, or medical equipment
- Lost wages for the time you miss from work during your recovery from your injuries
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from returning to your old job
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life, such as from physical disfigurements or disabilities
- Property damage, including damage to your vehicle or property inside the vehicle
Our experienced car accident attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case and your injuries and damages to determine what a fair settlement value should be.
What If I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
If you are found to be partially at fault for your car accident, you may wonder whether you can still seek compensation for your injuries and damages. Under Massachusetts’ modified comparative fault system, an injured plaintiff can still recover compensation so long as he or she was not in the majority at-fault (51% or more) for the accident. However, an injured plaintiff who is eligible to recover compensation but is found to be partially at fault will have his or her recovery reduced by that portion of fault.
For example, if you are deemed to be 20 percent at fault for your accident, and you have suffered $100,000 in damages, your $100,000 recovery will be reduced by 20 percent, or $20,000, to account for your share of fault. As a result, your ultimate recovery would be $80,000.
In many car accident cases, fault is hotly contested by the parties. An at-fault driver and the insurance company may try to argue that you bear the majority of fault for the accident so that you would be ineligible to recover compensation, or they may argue that you bear a higher share of fault to reduce the compensation you are owed. Our experienced Boston car accident attorney can effectively and aggressively advocate on your behalf to minimize or eliminate the share of fault that is placed on you.
When to Consult an Attorney
After you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you need to speak with an attorney about your case and when you should set up a consultation with a car accident lawyer. Ideally, you should make plans to speak to an attorney about your car accident as soon as possible, especially if you are injured and need medical treatment.
Soon after your crash, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters looking to discuss your accident or even to offer you compensation in exchange for settling any claims you may have arising from your accident. Although it can seem like the insurance companies are trying to help you, the sad reality is that the insurance companies are looking for any opportunity to minimize the amount of money they pay you, particularly before you have a chance to talk to a lawyer.
They may try to use any statements you give to an adjuster to claim that you were at fault for your accident, or they may offer you a quick settlement in the hope that the financial pressures of medical expenses and being out of work will force you to take far less than your case is worth.
You need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, especially if you are being contacted by the insurance companies or even by defense attorneys. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. Once you have legal representation, you can have the insurance companies direct their communications to your attorney. That way, you can feel secure that your rights and interests are being protected in all your dealings with the insurance company.
How Can Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers Help Me?
When you’ve been hit by a negligent or reckless driver, you need experienced legal representation in order to ensure that you are demanding the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages. The dedicated Boston car accident lawyers of Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers want to help you pursue the fair and full financial recovery you deserve. We understand that recovering from a car accident that wasn’t your fault can be one of the most trying experiences in your life. We aim to take the stress and pressure off you.
We offer every client a free case evaluation to talk with us about the details of their case and learn more about their legal rights and options. If we believe that we can bring value to your case, we will get to work building a strong and effective legal claim by thoroughly investigating your accident and working with experts to demonstrate who was at fault for your crash.
When you choose Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers to handle your Boston car accident case, you’ll get the personalized service of a small law firm with the experience and resources of a big law firm. Our team is always available to you to answer your questions and concerns and keep you up to date on every development in your case. We stand behind our service and results and offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee for serious injury cases. If in 30 days you aren’t satisfied with the way we are handling your case, you can take your case file, no obligation necessary.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts, contact Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-LAW-GUYS to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our knowledgeable car accident attorneys. You can discuss your case and learn more about how our firm can help you fight for the financial recovery you need and deserve from those responsible for your accident.